Country classics kick off fair entertainment

Friday, September 17, 2004

By Kathryn Alfisi ~ Southeast Missourian

Thirty-one years after his first performance at the Arena Park grandstand, musician Leroy Van Dyke performed again at the SEMO District Fair to an estimated crowd of 1,900 on Thursday.

Van Dyke was not the only musician of the night. Former Statler Brother Jimmy Fortune played, as did fellow country artists David Frizzel and Rex Allen Jr.

The night started off with Jennifer Henderson, the winner of Wednesday's Heartland Idol contest, belting out the national anthem in an impressive fashion.

After being billed as "the world's most famous auctioneer," Van Dyke took to the stage in what appeared to be a purplish-pink suit complete with a few mirrored sequins on the shoulders.

Starting with "Alabama Jubilee," Van Dyke's performance was full of old-time country fun and energy.

But he was also able to give a poignancy to slower songs like "The Green, Green Grass of Home," where his rich, warm voice worked perfectly. Van Dyke's voice at time resembled a mix of Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley.

The slower songs Van Dyke performed made you feel like you should be sitting in a honky-tonk, alone with your beer.

One of those slower songs was Van Dyke's biggest hit "Walk On By," which received the biggest applause of the night for him.

Jimmy Fortune followed Van Dyke and brought a different country sound to the stage.

Songs like "My Only Love" and "More Than Just a Name" were slower, heart-felt numbers that showcased Fortune's strong voice. The latter song also paid tribute to U.S. veterans and before singing it, Fortune asked all the veterans in the audience to stand and thanked them for their service.

335-6611, extension 182

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